Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Volunteer Spotlight: Anna Ashbaugh

This week Cabrini Connections would like to recognize first-year mentor, Anna Ashbaugh, who has been working with Whitney Hemphill this year. Since being paired up this past fall, they have made great progress together. Last week you read about the great work that Whitney Hemphill has been up to both academically and outside of school. In fact, since then, Whitney and Anna worked together on her “I have a dream…” powerpoint presentation, which won first prize and netted her $100. This week it’s time to find out more about the other side of the coin, her mentor Anna.

Like a handful of us on staff at Cabrini Connections, Anna is a recent graduate from
Northwestern University. She graduated in 2007 with a degree in cultural anthropology, doing her thesis on corporate social responsibility. She is now a Client Executive at Burson-Marsteller, a Public Relations firm, where she does corporate communications, community relations and corporate social responsibility. She helps companies such as Hormel Foods track their environmental and social impact. Much as she tries to work with her clients to help them become more responsible corporate citizens, she has been working with Whitney to develop her talents and potential.

Anna first became interested in Cabrini Green through another anthropology student at Northwestern who did their thesis on the language used in the media and around Chicago to refer to Cabrini Green and the dynamics of how that same language was also used by its residents. Looking for a way to get involved and use her talents to help others, she found out about our program and immediately found it to be “a really engaging, challenging experience.” Having mentored interns in the past, Anna particularly notices how “everyone here really cares about the students.”

Working with Whitney on her schoolwork and various other projects Anna finds that they both enjoy the freedom of the program, which encourages mentors and mentees to come together and decide for themselves at tutoring sessions what the most valuable use of their time would be. Tutoring Whitney also gives Anna an opportunity to brush up on her U.S. History and other subjects that she hasn’t read up on much since high school! Building a relationship with Whitney has also led them to meet outside of our center, to see movies like “The Secret Life of Bees” and to share stories and life experiences over dinner.

A harpist and singer since the age of 6, Anna originally took up the harp because she “wanted to be an angel.” It may have taken her 15 odd years of practice, but we’re glad she’s touching the lives of others in such a meaningful way here at Cabrini Connections. Thanks Anna and keep up the great work!

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